New York Film Locations

otsoNY in 2009: Vanilla Sky

15 October 2019

Principal photography for the film ‘Vanilla Sky’ began in late 2000 and lasted six weeks. On November 12th, shooting for the scene of the deserted Times Square in New York took place in the early hours of the day. A large section of traffic was blocked off around Times Square while the scene was shot. There was a limit on how long the city would let the filmmakers lock down the area even on an early Sunday morning. Several times were rehearsed with steadicam and crane including a mock-up of an unmovable guardrail that we had to work the crane arm around. Actor Tom Cruise participated in the rehearsals so that there was a clear understanding of what the limitations and requirements would be. Filming lasted for six weeks around the New York City-area, which included scenes shot in Central Park, Upper West Side, SoHo, and Brooklyn. One prominent location in the area was the Condé Nast Building that served as Aames Publishing and David's office.

Film Poster: Vanilla Sky

“For me, ‘Vanilla Sky’ just didn’t make any sense at all,” laughs otsoNY creator Mark Rogers. “According to director Cameron Crowe, there were five different interpretations of the ending. Option one was that Tech Support was telling the truth and that 150 years have passed since Aames killed himself and that subsequent events form a lucid dream. Option two and the entire film was a dream, with evidence pointing to a sticker on Aames' car that read the date as 2/30/01. Option three, and the events following the crash had formed a dream that occurred while Aames was in a coma. Option four, and the entire film was the plot of the book that Brian was writing. And finally, option five, the entire film after the crash was a hallucination caused by the drugs that were administered during Aames' reconstructive surgery.” Mark adds, “Take any one of those options, and it still doesn’t make any sense!”

A scene from Vanilla Sky starring Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz

A scene from Vanilla Sky starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz

The main character’s apartment was supposed to be at The Dakota on Central Park West, though the filmmakers were not permitted to film inside, so only exterior shots of the building, made famous by the shooting of Beatles front man John Lennon in 1980, were used. “My list of ‘Vanilla Sky’ film locations was long though thankfully without too many issues as many of them had already been posted online. However, I was curious to see Sofia Serrano's Brooklyn loft which was located at the 57 Jay Street at the corner of Water Street in DUMBO.” The warehouse has been home to artists for decades, and was thought to have been the perfect setting for Sofia’s low-budget apartment. “I took a taxi to Water Street and instantly recognised the cobbled surface where Tom Cruise’s character had passed out only to be woken by Sofia played by Penélope Cruz, who reprised her role from the Spanish version of the film and softly muttered the original title ‘Open Your Eyes’.”

Sofia's loft apartment in Brooklyn

The remake received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, as well as Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award nominations for Cameron Diaz's performance.

Click HERE for a full list of film locations from Vanilla Sky

In the next article of this series, Mark talks about the film, ‘Two Weeks Notice’ and it’s fake Legal Aid office.


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